EDITOR, The Tribune
Was the PLP’s Mall Renovation Estimate Inflated?
I crave your indulgence of a little space to comment on the government’s decision to rent space at the Town Centre Mall, said to be owned by Immigration Minister Brent Symonette and his brother, for temporary relocation of the General Post Office.
I take no issue with a backbencher dissenting with an action proposed by the government of the day; the Westminster system allows for such dissent. The Immigration Minister has fully met the disclosure requirements of the Westminster system for addressing issues of potential conflict by a government minister. The government has gone well beyond Westminster requirements by tabling details of the arrangements in the House and allowing for debate. Reverend McAlpine admits that the Immigration Minister has satisfied Westminster requirements. His concern must therefore rest elsewhere.
Prior to addressing commentary said to be attributable to Vaughn Miller, I consider it noteworthy to point out that, according to the leader of the opposition, the PLP government walked away from consideration of the location because the estimated $4.5 million expenditure by that government to make the location tenantable by the Post Office was too high.
The Mall owners will receive $4.5 million in rent revenue over the life of the lease. The owners estimate expenditure of $3.5 million to refurbish the premises. They, not government, will bear the cost of the work and should therefore earn $1 million over the term of the lease, approximately $200,000 per year. (Much more can seemingly be earned renting out a few apartments or selling a few computers to government). Should renovations cost $4.5 million, as proffered by the opposition leader, the Mall owners will earn zilch. Or was the PLP’s Mall estimate inflated?
Given the fact that the Immigration Minister has fully satisfied Westminster requirements, Vaughn Miller’s intemperate pronouncement of the government’s action as being corrupt can at best be considered perverse or otherwise portray him as an ignoramus not fully understanding the implication of his accusation.
I previously noted the right of a backbencher to dissent with an action proposed by the government of the day. I therefore offer no comment regarding the other two good gentlemen as I have not seen commentary said to be attributable to either.
In closing, I record my lack of support for the earlier proposal of the government to move the General Post Office to Gladstone Road. I believe it would have posed a terrible inconvenience to staff and customers. In my view, the General Post Office needs to remain in the general environs of the City of Nassau.
Once the General Post Office structure with its enigmatic history has been demolished, a suitable structure might, perhaps, be constructed on the existing site. Should operations at the Town Centre Mall meet or exceed expectations, government ought to judiciously evaluate the value of continuing at the location vs. some other site, notwithstanding the noise in the market. Just a thought though some might say an idiosyncratic thought given prevailing discourse.
MICHAEL R. MOSS
November 5, 2018